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Incumbent candidates running for re-election normally have the advantage over challengers. In 2004, the incumbency re-election rate was an astounding 99 percent for U.S. House of Representatives candidates and 96 percent for U.S. Senate candidates. Those numbers are likely to drop significantly this year because voters really don’t agree with the job that congress is doing right now, but even so, it’s still probably preferable to be an incumbent than a challenger.
It’s not always good to be an incumbent, however, and one Colorado state house district has proven that over the years. In House District 23 (Lakewood & Golden), the incumbent candidate has lost in each of the last four elections. This district is again one of the three most competitive in the entire state, thanks in part to its balanced voter registration numbers, and the incumbent Democrat (Gwyn Green) may very well lose to the former incumbent (Ramey Johnson). In fact, Johnson knows all too well about the ineffectiveness of being a sitting legislator in this district, which may be why she is running for the seat for the fourth straight time.
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In 2000, the Republican Johnson ran against Democrat Kelley Daniel for the open seat in HD-23. Daniel won.
In 2002, Johnson again challenged Daniel, and this time she upset the incumbent.
In 2004, Green challenged the incumbent Johnson and won by less than 30 votes.
In 2006, Johnson is back – again – to run against Green.
Maybe Johnson just needs another hobby, or maybe she recognizes the trend in HD-23: It’s not good to be the king. Or queen.
This phenomenon has also created an interesting opportunity for both candidates. Green and Johnson both have yard signs throughout the district that say “Re-Elect (Green/Johnson)”. They’re both correct, of course. Although Green is the current representative, a vote for Johnson would be a vote for re-election. And the way things have gone in this district, voters may have the same options again in two years.